263Chat raised €40,000 from the government of Netherlands and Hivos

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

Information in an update sent out by the Hypercube Recovery manager this month reveals that the founder of 263chat, Nigel Mugamu, raised €40,000 from the government of Netherlands and Hivos in 2014.

263chat was started as a Twitter account and hashtag around 2011. Nigel Mugamu used it to engage Zimbabwean citizens online to participate in progressive and national dialogue in Zimbabwe. Eventually the organisation launched a website where it publishes general news.

The hivos website confirms that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs The Netherlands and Hivos (itself a Dutch organization) indeed provided the grant.

To date, it has not been clear if 263Chat is a commercial venture or a non-profit organization. This may suggest it’s the latter.

From the dates indicated, the money was raised soon after Mugamu had co-founded Hypercube Hub, which was also funded by Hivos. Hypercube eventually closed its doors in 2015 when Hivos pulled out from funding it and apparently put it on a blacklist. This apparently happened after some possible irregularities at the hub were discovered.

It’s not clear if 263chat raised more money since the 2014 money. We contacted Mugamu to get comment on the funding, to check if they raised any more, and to get clarification on whether 263chat is an NGO or a for-profit organisation but he hadn’t responded to our questions when we hit ‘publish’.

Update: Mugamu responded to our questions. Here are his responses:

Is it true that 263chat raised that amount from those funders? – 263Chat was formed in September 2012 as a twitter account. Our work then was purely limited to the online space. As 263Chat grew, we started to attend offline events as a way of generating content and much-needed revenue. We attended many events including the Broadband Forum hosted by TechZim and other partners. We still attend events and provide live updates to this day. Given our online presence in 2014, we applied for funding to host offline events of our own. We hosted a number of free events in 2014 and early 2015 as a result of this funding.

How much more has 263Chat raised since then? – We have not raised any more grant funding of this nature since then. We have instead focused on the sustainability of 263Chat as a business.

Is 263Chat a for profit organisation or a non-profit? – 263Chat is a for profit organisation registered as a private limited business in Zimbabwe. We have recently concluded discussions with a local institutional investor to help grow and drive the business forward.



  1. Sir Nige

    Hi TechZim, you gave me a 2PM publishing deadline. I sent my email BEFORE the 2pm deadline. How come the information I included isn’t reflected in the article?

    1. Kinja

      Techzim asi maida kuti mari ipiwe imi……whats wrong with Mugamu getting a donation….i mean so whats th story….imi mari dzamunotambira makambotiudza here…poor journalism….up your game

    2. AeroWave

      Look where this Techzim and 263Chat thing has ended up to smh. It’s now being blown out of proportion at Mafaira the so called Zimbabwe forum.


  2. Iyoyi

    Saka Pindula zvakadhakwa now you have to piggy-back it onto techzim to try and generate hits. Haayas! Times are hard rastas

  3. 3rd Party

    Is this meant to be a smear campaign? Where is the news in this news article. Yes they received that money….and then? Nyaya iri papi?

    You only mention that in one line and then everything else is just details that we all know….

    Ko kuzopanana ma 2pm deadline? Aaahhh amana……

    I get worried about the kind of content and journalism this website is drifting towards. There’s a thin line between exposé and just being pulling a brother down.

    1. tinm@n

      Your tone betrays your heavy investment on the “other side”.

      Do you work for 263Chat?

      Nothing in this article suggests any negative connotation. For you to use phrases like “smear campaign”, you betray emotions and attachment that lie beneath the surface.

      They are not journalists, by the way.

      1. 3rd Party

        1. Journalism is by trade not by qualification. If you have a platform…and you write for that platform about ongoing events for the whole world to see….boom…you’re a journalist.

        2. Whether I work for 263chat or not….I ask again…where is the news in this story? What’s the point? Where’s the value?

        3. Of course I have emotions and attachment….and not beneath the surface but in clear and in plain sight. I actually the utmost respect for both establishments (Techzim and 263chat)…both being the few well known online/tech based startups that have stood the test. At the very least…..out of shear respect for each other…the should handle each other with care. So yes I am heavily invested in the side of the industry.

      2. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

        @Tinm@n You have the odd mentality that when someone is commenting, if they aren’t singing praises, then they are “on the other side”. Say your point, if you have one, without trying to lynch the commenter.

  4. Arnold

    Most of the times I read comments that castigate Techzim whilst shying away from the content of the offending article, and this article is one of them. First and foremost what techzim reported above is a good and relevant piece of news. 263chat is fairly a unique startup that might be admired by many followers especially young people. Whilst the founder of 263 chat from what I pick from him whenever I see him, he potrays himself as a ordinary young man who used the phone to build a succesful media company. Sir Nige is a role model to many and for a story like this to get published I think it helps people understand Sir Nige and be able to productively collaborate with him than the previous prosaic interactions. Personally I always feel that if entrepreneurs properly work together a lot is going to be achieved. Sharing knowledge and information is one way that entrepreneurs in Zim can help each other. If Sir Nige had shared information with other people at the hubs and spaces he goes to about the Hivos funding opportunities maybe we might have had many other startups getting funded, its unfortunate people are getting to know about this right now and no colloboration is no longer possible for that same grant extended to Sir Nige. Personally I have wondered in the wild for a long time struggling to scale my startups but its only one contact who helped me to scale my startup. My bosses knew this contact but never shared information about him with me but when I accidently bumped to him at an international conference everything started going well. Therefore I encourage entrepreneurs to help each other through things like sharing information and knowledge and not keeping information that can help someone to themselves.

    1. 3rd Party

      Arnold….you seem like a nice young man. Your innocence is inspiring. Stay pure….and all the best with scaling your startups. Try to get in touch with Sir Nige, buy him some coffee and ask him to break down lessons learned…things to do…and things that could have been done differently.

  5. Terence

    This does not seem to be some sort of breaking news such that you could rush and publish without giving 263Chat a fair amount of time to respond.

  6. The Euclidian

    Well, this happens with any popular site: Techzim gets a beating from its visitors and fans for reporting what they do not like to hear. Techzim, I give you thumbs up, the issue is not about good journalism like what other commentators are saying: for these guys, what they call good journalism is what they want to hear. This article actually meets all the standards of professional reporting: 1) It answers what the reader wants to know; 2) It updates readers on 263Chat, whose founder also happens to have been part of another failed venture, hypercube; 3) The protagonist of the story is given the chance to provide his own side. And this he did: we got his responses, what’s the problem then? I think these guys are doing the best and they should keep up doing so. The issue is not about whether Techzim reports its donation: the issue is about 263Chat and its foundation. There is no need to be emotional where emotions are not called for. Better give credit where it is due: I understand Sir Nije has an interest in this article, so he can comment, but he shouldn’t take this personally. This is about objectivity. and this article is not bad at all. No one was accused of theft or fraud: just that.

    1. 3rd Party

      No one seems to answer this question….Ndati what is the news in this article? What new things do it say that we’re not already mentioned in the Hypercube story? They got 40,000…ok…so what? If they embezzled….go ahead and say that and show proof while you are at it. Don’t just ruin a good man’s name so a few comments and some spikes in traffic.

      It is the objectivity…or lack thereof….of this story that’s raising a stink.

      1. Coolies

        I think the story is relevant, the fact that it generated this much comments means it was a newsworthy story. Its however very clear that 3rd party was offended by the story and he is now emotionally on a piece of news that informed the general public that one of Zim visible startup called 263chat raised 40000 euros from the Norwergian or Hivos. This news story satisfied the purposes of journalism, which is to to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments. For me personally this news story about 263chat assisted me to understand the foundations of 263chat, its really apparent that 263chat is a western project whose roots can be traced to a whole foreign affairs ministry of netherlands. I am now aware of 263chat foundations which honestly I am not happy of especially when I dont know the terms and conditions of their contract and because of this knowledge I am going to unfollow 263chat on twitter. So 3rd party if that doesnt explain the usefulness of this article to me then I dont know what will.

        1. 3rd Party

          But….all of the comments generated are not about the subject of the article. All of them..save for one….are going back and forth about if it’s newsworthy or not.

          Yes…of course I get offended and emotional when one tech startup tries to paint a negative picture of another….and are apparently are succeeding at it. Because that’s all you saw. The west and foreign affairs and 263chat foundations. (Really??? From this article???).

          Ko pane ambowonawo here the fact that they actually managed to raise 40,000 euros! Perhas the story could have focused on that….And perhaps some startups could learn one or two things from them.

        2. 3rd Party

          Most things in this country are western funded! If that’s your angle…then perhaps be pissed off at everything. Wait a minute….looks like you already are.

          1. Coolies

            Its true that the West funds a lot of things in Zimbabwe like medecine, condoms, etc However what made us curious is how a whole ministry of foreign affairs netherlands (bypassing our own simbarashe mumbengegwi) would pour 40000 euros to a local startup whose chief business is to make an endless list of tweets that the majority of Zimbabweans dont care to read, A Sir Nige who moves around saying that he boostraps his startup in the day whilst in the evening receiving crisp euro notes from foreign governments. Personally I am disappointed about 263chat, all along 263chat sold us a LIE. Its does not meet the criteria of a boostrapped business and Sir Nige has no moral standing to mentor or advise our young entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe unless he opens up.

  7. Sagittar

    If 263Chat is a Media organisation that encourages and participates in dialogue how come information has to be extracted from them? Shouldn’t this be coming out voluntarily? Even the response by Magamu leaves some of us with inquisitive and sceptical minds lots of questions. That again they cannot meet deadlines is something they must correct as a for-profit business otherwise there won’t be any profit to talk about.